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2008 | June | RPCV Newsletter

2008 | June | RPCV Newsletter

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Returned Peace Corps Volunteers - Washington / June 2008 Newsletter / More information about our organization can be found on http://rpcvw.org
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers - Washington / June 2008 Newsletter / More information about our organization can be found on http://rpcvw.org

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 RPCVw is currently accepting nominations for next year's Board of Directors. Being amember of the Board requires commitment and a passion for service. Each board member is expected to participate in theannual planning retreat in August, attend monthly meetings, lead a committee or task,conduct outreach, and be committed to RPCVw's mission. Positions are elected annually, and Board members are expected to serve for one year starting after the Annual Picnic in July. Interested? Emailcommunityservice@rpcvw.orgif you areinterested in nominating yourself for a position, or if you have questions about certain board positions, time commitment,etc. We hope to have a great, energetic 2008-2009 RPCVw board!!!!!!!!!
Direct strategic planning andensure that the board is taking action to meetgoals and that all activities supportRPCV/W's mission and vision. Preside overmeetings, plan board retreats, engage infundraising, respond to general inquiries, andrepresent RPCV/W to media and otherorganizations.
Lead board in theabsence of the president. Develop andmonitor compliance with event protocol andsurveys. Maintain and report on eventtracker. Coordinate annual Peace CorpsPartnership donation as well as Reception. 
Record and distribute meetingminutes. Lead annual elections of newofficers and coordinate annual report.Maintain archives.
Make budgetrecommendations. Produce monthly financialreports on revenue, expenses, and cash flowtrends. Maintain financial records; preparedeposits of member dues; oversee financialmatters related to events and activities; andensure financial compliance with any taxlaws.
Produce the bimonthlynewsletter; maintain the RPCV/W website; andwork with Communications Director todevelop ways of conveying the overall imageand mission of RPCV/W.
Keepsmembers informed of RPCV events. Serve asfirst point of contact for people who havegeneral comments or questions. Write and editcontent for newsletter. Work with othermembers in ways of conveying overall imageand mission of RPCVw.
Organizeeducational events, such as author readings,film events, and lectures on a variety of topicsincluding women in development, cross-cultural issues, and the environment. Gatherand share information on similar opportunitiesin the region.
Directdevelopment efforts, including fundraisingefforts such as raffles and the Holiday PartyAuction. Research potential partnerships withbusinesses, including advertising sales andmember benefits.
Organizesocial events such as potlucks and monthlyhappy hours. Work with membership and newmember chairs in recruiting new members.
Coordinatespecial events such as Annual Holiday Party,Cherry Blossom Picnic, and Annual Picnic.
Maintain themembership database; coordinate renewalnotices; produce monthly reports onmembership levels, including new, lapsed, andrenewed members. Produce membership listsas needed for event organizers. Coordinaterecruitment efforts with New MemberDirector.
Connect anddevelop relationships with new members andpotential members. Support new memberswith events (such as welcome brunches) andinformation for transitioning to living andworking in the D.C. area. Develop ways toand help ensure that all events attract newmembers.
 Develop community service opportunities formembers. Gather and share information onvolunteer and speaking opportunities in thearea, including opportunities with partnerorganizations and members needingvolunteers. Coordinate annual wreath-layingevent at JFK memorial.
Wreath Laying Ceremony to Honor JFK
May 15, 6:00 p.m.Arlington National CemetaryEvery year near the anniversary of hisbirthday in May, RPCVw honors PresidentJohn F. Kennedy, who helped to promote thecreation of the Peace Corps and called thecitizens of this country into public service.Placing a wreath at his gravesite in ArlingtonNational Cemetery, provides an opportunityfor former volunteers of all ages as well astheir family and friends to hear how hisdream of international service and culturalexchange lives on.This year, we teamed up with the PeaceCorps Office of Returned VolunteersServices and also recognized RPCVs whoserved in the 13 original countries. We wereespecially honored that Peace Corps DirectorRon Tschetter who was accompanied by hiswife Nancy — both who were among someof the first volunteers sent to India in the1960s — was able to speak to attendees.
The Journey Back to the Beginning:Bolivia Then and Now
 By: Jeff Lovelace
In his autobiography A Long Walk to Freedom,
writes, “There is nothing like returning to aplace that remains unchanged, to find the ways in whichyou yourself have altered.”Well it was with this motto in my head that I returned toBolivia last week…wondering what would be different,would I see myself different, would I see the Boliviansin a different light, would they see me differently?Would the wisdom of Nelson Mandela’s sentence ringtrue to me?Flying into El Alto — altitude 13,323 feet — alwaysleaves one feeling breathless. It may be for the lack of oxygen (or actually lack of atmospheric pressure), itmay be the sheer clarity and deep blue of the sky, orperhaps seeing Lake Titicaca, with depths of over 900feet, or it may be seeing the Andes Mountains,snowcapped year round in this age of warming, withpeaks that tower over 20,000 feet. Or perhaps thatbreathlessness is when you step into the street andrealize that yes, this is the second poorest country in theAmericas and while they are trying to remove all thediesel consuming vehicles, there is still an incredibleamount of pollution that spews black as night from theexhausts of buses and trucks. The type that makes youwonder if you should stop in the nearest
andpick up a “surgical mask.”After a week of trekking with friends in the Peruvianhighlands on the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, I figuredthis would make for perfect acclimatization. FromCuzco at 10,800 feet to La Paz at 13,323 it would be apiece of cake and what better time than to return toBolivia, La Paz, and Chuñavi (my site for two years)and home of the freeze-dried potato, or el chuño. So Icalled family, friends and relatives, only three had e-mail and two cell phones, to let them know of myimminent arrival and that I was back in Bolivia — likeno time had passed at all!What amazed me was how familiar it all was. Thefriendly faces, the invitations to partak e,the “we havemissed you, it has been so long, but yet we feel as if you were just here yesterday,” remarks. I do notremember the first day, except for being stuffed. For sixbolivianos or approximately 83 cents you get a FULLmeal of an overflowing bowl of soup, perhaps quinoa,pasta, chicken, chuño etc.
While it may not be “stocked-full” of meats andvegetables like Campbell Soups — it is filling, thenafter soup comes the main dish which is a plateheaping with rice, salad, chuños and chicken orbeef. I was full after the soup. All polished off witha Fruit Zumo — or natural fruit juice.What also struck me was the independence of thechildren. Anna, a little three-year old that willfigure prominently later on, was always justwalking about — into and out of the restaurant, intoand out of the street. Parents here would probablybe charged with child neglect, but in Bolivia thiswas how children learn the ways of the world.There was a story of how at two and a half, she gotout of bed, left the house, crossed a major road,walked three blocks to find her mother to tell herthat it was time to come home and go back to bed.Mom was out celebrating.And no sooner that night did I find myself celebrating. Toasting to the Pacha Mama, toBolivia, to el chuño to la hoja sagrada — coca, andplaying many games of cacho — the Bolivian Dicegame. I think that when the night ended there wasmore than one empty caja (box) of cerveza. Butsomehow the next morning the effects of sharingand draining more than 16 one liter cervezas didnot come to haunt me…it must have been theblessings of the Pacha Mama welcoming me back to Bolivia.After a few days in El Alto it was time to make theourney back in time to Chuñavi, where 11 yearsago there was a small community of 600inhabitants, no public transportation, one church, athree-room schoolhouse, two “mini” stores, norestaurants and no electricity, because thetownspeople wanted to live “off-the-grid” and get“free” electricity via hydropower — it might seemromantic, but the project never got off the ground,so Chuñavi was sans luz for four years, two of which were during my stay. In that time I haddeveloped some lasting friendships and was blessedwith two godchildren.So after packing my gifts from the United States(crayons, coloring pads, etc), buying 25 oranges(the children never seem to get enough fruit) andpacking extra layers for warmth the three of us setout (myself, my comadre and her son). The firstwas task was finding the correct Toyota mini-vanthat went in the direction of my site. Well they usedto stop here…and so we waited…but perhaps weshould try another place, so trusting localknowledge we moved up…further down the road tomajor intersection. Aha — here were all the mini-vans. All we had to do was to look for the oneswith the luggage racks on top — those where thelong-haul ones we would need. But we wanted tofind one that was almost full, if we got on an emptyone, we would have to wait and wait while it filled up…So on we got and down the PanAmerican Highway (readtwo-lane road) we set off.
 Nos Quedamos (we’re getting off)
I had to shout as Irealized that we were passing our destination. And off wetumbled with our over-stuffed bags of clothes and foodand prepared for the 30-minute hike to town. Well, it usedto be 30 minutes, when I was practiced and in shape —but now it seemed to take a bit longer (like and extra 15),but still the path was the same. It wound in and out of papa fields, quinoa and barley fields. There was theoccasional cow — “they are so skinny” pointed outFrancisco, a youth of 10 from el Alto. Yup —not much toeat out here, pretty dry and barren.After a number of breaks to drink water and find abathroom, Francisco was looking for a proper toilet…wetold him he was in the countryside and “anyplace” woulddo, we made it to the school and the bridge to nowhere. Abridge! There was a bridge, there never used to be abridge in Chuñavi. It does not even look as if cars use itand the bridge terminates at a wall of rocks. Strange,perhaps a misguided project — we thought. The school —there was the school — but in the past 11 years it haddoubled in size. The old three-room classroom had morethan tripled with the addition of a middle school, officesfor teachers as well as wash and bathrooms for thechildren. And even the old Mapa Del Mundo that wasdone with the schoolchildren was still there —a bit fadedand deteriorated. Wow progress had come to Chuñavi.We even learned that the bridge was for the cows, so thatthey could cross the river in the rainy season without fearof being swept away.As we wandered through Chuñavi it was amazing toremember the familiar faces and good times that we had.My godchild, now 13 was huge. But momand dad were grateful for the visit, gifts and oranges.They invited us in, shared soda, bread, while we sharedcoca with them. They told us how the town had grown toover 1,000 and of the new church that was built, how theynow had electricity, a new middle school, and even taxiservice from the main road.
Unfortunately Emiterio had passed away, but Fernandowas still around, we heard how Amaya lost his bus (of 44passengers) over the embankment on the way back totown from market, but fortunately most everyone wasokay. But sadly there were injuries and some that did notsurvive and the trip had been planned specially for acelebration of Chuñavi.As we left Chuñavi, in the back of a truck, I reflected thatwe had all changed. My comadre, godchild, myself hadall become older…but the important bonds of friendshipwere there as strong as before. The ride back in the truck was cold, but we watched as the sun set, the crescentmoon appear and the Southern Cross brightened in thesouthern sky.

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